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Network function virtualization

(also NFV)

Network function virtualization definition

Network function virtualization (NFV) is a network architecture concept that replaces the hardware network’s need to function with virtual machines. What this means is that network function virtualization virtualizes entire network node functions and uses software to provide the same functionalities instead.

With network function virtualization, buying and installing new hardware isn’t necessary each time a new service is needed. This, in turn, reduces the time it takes to deploy network components, from months with traditional networking to mere hours with network function virtualization.

Additionally, the services can be deployed on cheaper standard servers, which can reduce the company’s costs significantly.

See also: server virtualization, virtual machine migration

Network function virtualization advantages

  • Frees up a lot of space that was previously taken up by network hardware.
  • Reduces the power consumption of the network and makes it more efficient.
  • Provides higher scalability because new services can be added quickly and easily without buying new hardware each time.
  • Decreases the amount of money companies spend on network and hardware maintenance.

Network function virtualization disadvantages

  • Exposes the network to new types of attacks because it can’t be protected by physical security control like with traditional networking.
  • Malware can spread more easily among components because they all run on the same virtual machine.